All you need to know about the EIC Accelerator 2024
News on the EIC Accelerator 2024 programme
In December we finally got to see the new EIC Work Programme 2024 and, as we expected, there were some major changes. We’ve outlined some of the biggest shake-ups to the EIC Accelerator below.
General characteristics of the EIC Accelerator 2023
Probably the biggest change to the EIC Accelerator 2024 is that the funding has been slashed by almost half from EUR 1.1 billion in 2023 to EUR 675 million. This is a huge cut, so we’re going to expand on this later in the section entitled “Why is EIC less this year?”.
The funding options have also been revamped: gone is the “grant-first” funding option, to be replaced by a choice between grant only, blended finance and equity only, which simplifies the decision a little.
The introduction of “lump sum funding” will also affect the application process. In theory, it will be easier for applicants to justify their project, but time will tell how it works in practice. Aristos can advise you in your specific case.
The Fast Track scheme has also been expanded, meaning that more projects which have previously received funding from other bodies (including local and national bodies such as the CDTI-Neotec and Acció-Startup Capital in Spain) are eligible to skip Step 1 and pass straight to Step 2.
Changes to criteria
To proceed from Step 1 to Step 2, applicants will now need a green light (“go”) from 3 out of the 4 evaluators. Previously, they only needed 2 out of 4. This will apply to all short proposals received from 1 January 2024. Obviously this will make reaching Step 2 a lot harder – this is where Aristos can help you with expert guidance.
The criteria to pass from Step 2 to the interview stage have also changed slightly: if applicants receive a “no-go” from A SINGLE evaluator on one or more criteria, the evaluators will hold a consensus meeting to decide whether the proposal passes to the interview stage or not. This is new, and means that a single evaluator can no longer “kill” a proposal.
And we’re calling another big change the “3 strikes and you’re out” rule: if applicants accumulate 3 no-gos AT ANY POINT in the application process (for example one in Step 1 and two in Step 2), they WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REAPPLY until the next Framework Programme, currently foreseen for 2028.
This replaces the previous 2 strikes in each step. The block on reapplying until the next Framework programme replaces the cooling-off period (currently 12 months).
EIC Accelerator deadlines 2024
Another change is the amount of EIC Accelerator 2024 cut-off dates: this year there are only 2 cut-off dates, compared to 4 in 2023.
The EIC Accelerator cut-off dates in 2024 are 13 March 2024 and 3 October 2024.
This means that companies aiming for the first cut-off date in March are really up against it, with just over 2 months to get their applications ready for submission.
As before, Step 1 short applications can be submitted at any time.
Why is EIC funding less this year?
So the sixty-four thousand dollar question (or rather the 675 million euro question) that many people are asking is why has EIC Accelerator funding been slashed almost in half this year? It’s partly because the post-pandemic Next Generation recovery funding has come to an end, but we think that, instead of focusing on the “why”, it’s more important to consider what the effect is likely to be.
The money on offer has been cut by 39% compared to 2022, so we can expect the process to become even more competitive, and for fewer companies to be selected for funding. Let’s look at the data we have for previous years and extrapolate from there:
Given that the total available funding for the grant component in 2024 is €270 million, and if we assume that each company funded will receive the full €2.5 million they are eligible for, this would mean that 108 companies would be selected for grant funding in 2024.
This is significantly less than the 223 companies selected in 2022 and also less than the 130 companies selected in 2023 so far. (The number of companies selected from the 2023 cut-offs will probably rise further after the next round of face-to-face interviews later this month).
It is a pity that such a powerful programme, set up to discover unicorns and drive strategic innovation in Europe, does not have a larger budget.
EIC Accelerator 2024 success rates
So what does the reduced funding mean in terms of success rates? The EIC Accelerator programme is already one of the most competitive programmes in Europe, as can be seen by calculating its success rate in recent years. (https://eic.ec.europa.eu/events/european-innovation-council-online-info-day-work-programme-2024-15-january-2024-2024-01-15_en)
In the first half of 2023 (i.e. not including the November cut-off), 16% of Step 2 applications were selected for the face-to-face interview. Out of the companies invited to interview, 29.6% were successful. This means that the EIC Accelerator success rate from submitting a Step 2 application to receiving funding in the June 2023 cut-off was 4.7%.
OUR ANALYSIS: What’s good and what’s not so good about the EIC Accelerator 2024
- The fact that applicants now require a “go” from 3 out of 4 evaluators to pass to Step 2. This will mean that only the best projects will reach Stage 2 and evaluators will not have to spend as much time on “weeding out” weaker applications.
- The addition of the consensus meeting in Step 2. Before, a project could potentially be rejected by a single no-go from a single evaluator, which we felt was too severe.
We don’t like:
- If a company gets 3 strikes, it is prevented from reapplying *with any project* until the next Framework programme begins (foreseen to be 2028). Some companies have several lines of research & innovation, and three strikes in one project will prevent them from applying for funding for a different project.
- We would like remote evaluators to be given more time, or more money, so that they can carry out better, more thorough reviews.
- How long it took for the new Work Programme to be published. Applicants are now up against the wire to prepare their proposals in time for the March cut-off.
- The substantial cut in funding. This is a flagship programme for the European Union, and we’re disappointed that the EIC was unable to secure more money for it.
- If you think your project is a good fit for the EIC Accelerator and you want our help with your application, click here.